Labour needs a programme of political education - so says teacher and activist James McCash in a recent blog on OpenDemocracyUK .
He points out that one in 75 people in the UK is now a member of the Labour Party - so where are the Labour voices in pub conversations, mother and toddler groups, book groups?
Derbyshire Dales has developed a vibrantly active presence on social media, but we’re speaking to the converted. Great as social media is, I don’t find it all that easy for exploring policy, nor do I always remember that great post I shared on Facebook when I’m face to face with a friend or neighbour whose political views differ from my own.
We live in a Conservative constituency - someone you know must vote for them. How do we turn that vote around? How do we take the fight to the Tories on our own ground? How do we start having conversations outside of our own circle? How do we develop more informed and articulate discussions within our own circle?
Starting early this year, Wirksworth & Masson Branch decided to set up a stall at Wirksworth Farmers Market. It’s only for 2 hours once a month, but it’s an opportunity to campaign, hand out literature, promote CLP events, demonstrate an active Labour Party presence and have conversations. Indeed, conversations are the most enjoyable part of being on the stall. But in my experience, we are speaking to the converted. People have thanked us for being there, for having a presence in the town, but it’s rare to have a conversation on the stall with someone who isn’t a supporter.
We need “an active political and articulate membership who can persuade those around them”, says McCash, “we will only win by articulating a positive and transformative vision for a fairer society. . .
“Labour needs a programme of political education to empower members to better persuade those around them and to participate more confidently in internal debates.”
The CLP is starting with a series of invited speakers. On 16 September Jon Ashworth, MP for Leicester South, will be speaking at a social in Bakewell on ‘Tackling the Tory Myths’. More details and RSVP on the Events page.
Other speakers could be invited as part of a talks programme for the winter months, alternating with a locally-led discussion group.
What about a book group, or MOOC courses such as these on Futurelearn, Edx and Yale University, mentioned in the comments section of McCash’s blog, freely available to everyone? Perhaps a group could agree to follow a course and back it up with a weekly pub discussion: